Over the past few years, self-serve technology has advanced to improve performance in the wash bay and offer customers more value. “The use of variable frequency drives (VFD) has offered better delivery and more flexibility of high- and low-pressure liquids,” says Cliff Reed, owner and president of Hydro-Spray Wash Systems Inc. “In some equipment designs VFDs reduce system components, reduce utility costs and offer the ability to utilize more accurate chemical metering devices.”

Improvements in detergents, pre-soak, waxes and polishes also deliver better results, notes Reed. More services like foam brush, foam polish, hand-held force air drying, tire shine, compressed air and under-body cleaning are also now available.

Credit cards are now accepted in many locations, Hydro-Spray shares, and this has increased ticket averages. Loyalty and fleet programs have also encouraged repeat customers.  

“Fleet accounts, promotional discount codes and even a free birthday or veterans wash without the need of high-cost, sophisticated equipment and the daunting tasks that come along with the common promotional card-based systems [are popular],” reports Reed.

Cost-effective trends

To further increase volume and ticket averages, self-serve operators seek out new, practical and reliable service offerings.

“Overall operators appear to be focused on their businesses by making very conscious decisions and not spending beyond their means, identifying the small details of their models and making them better,” explains Reed.

Operators are also increasingly concerned with preventative maintenance, believes Reed. Regular upkeep can reduce repair costs over the life of the business and increase open hours.

“Some operators are seeking out service providers that offer proactive service schedules focused on preventive maintenance, identifying small problems before they get big and costly,” Reed states.